Put some cream on it: Warming up the holiday kitchen with Studio of Good Living


Five yogis walk into a kitchen and prepare seven dishes made with heavy cream.

This sounds like the beginning of a ridiculous and hilarious joke, but in all honesty, it’s pretty much how Saturday morning started out, with the very first recipe being homemade Irish cream (note: it was 11am). Things were off to an awesome start at the Studio of Good Living, Phoebe Schilla's school of experiential cooking.

After introducing ourselves in chef Schilla’s beautiful home kitchen (and finding out that we’re all yoga fanatics), we got down to the business of preparing a variety of holiday sides and desserts, excited to master a few new recipes before this weeks holiday cooking bonanza begins.

Our chef, who trained at the Cordon Bleu and the Culinary Institute of America, is a personal chef and cooking instructor whose goal is to teach people how to cook simple, delicious food -- and also eat it. Phoebe teaches out of her home, combing cooking with a yoga session and trips to the spa or the Ferry Building Farmers Market for her "signature experiences" offerings. She usually keeps class size under five students, so the experience is intimate, informative, and very hands-on. We not only learned new recipes, but we also got instructions on how to properly hold a knife, the perfect way to dice an onion, and how to crack an egg with one hand (more practice at home may be required on this last item!)

For our holiday cooking class, our lessons included the art of the perfect pie crust, two delectable stuffing recipes (one made with chestnut, another with wild mushroom), a chocolate truffle tart that would make an chocaholic beg for more, and a creamy vegetable soup that came with the option of increased richness with the addition of some heavy cream.

Overall, it was extremely fun -- and a wonderful way to explore your kitchen and feel confident for the holidaze.

To add something wonderful to your Thanksgiving table this year, consider baking up a pan of Phoebe’s wild mushroom bread pudding


Ingredients (serves 10-12):

1 (1-pound) loaf crusty-style white bread

¼ cup olive oil

1 ½ tsp. dried thyme

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 TBS. butter

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms

2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1 cup boiling water, strain, and chop.

Reserve the liquid.

3 cups heavy whipping cream

8 large eggs

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup finely grated aged parmesan, pecorino or gouda.


Preheat over to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cut the crust and short ends off the bread. Cut remaining bread with crust into ½ inch cubes. Place cubes in very large bowl. Add oil, thyme, 1 tsp of salt and ½ tsp of pepper; toss to coat. Spread cubes out on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the toasted cubes to a large bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fresh mushrooms. Saute until golden and juices have evaporated, about 15 minutes. Continue cooking and allow to brown – about 10 additional minutes. Deglaze the pan with the porcini mushroom soaking liquid. Add chopped porcini mushrooms and reduce the liquid until it is almost dry. Whisk heavy cream, eggs, salt and ground pepper in large bowl. Pour egg and cream mixture over the bread. Let the custard soak into the bread for 15 minutes. Fold in the mushrooms and grated cheese. Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish. Bake stuffing uncovered until set and top is golden, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.